Ci (Lyric) and Qu (Melody)
Ci (词 a form of poetry with long or short verses which can be set to music and sung) and qu (曲 a form of rhyming compositions which can be set to music and sung) are a combined appellation for two kinds of literary styles. In the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature, they are listed at the very end of the “Collections” section (Qu is a sub-genre and is not listed in the table of contents). This is because according to the literary views of ancient scholars, poetry and essays were the only accepted tradition to express important ideas. To write in the form of ci (lyric) and qu (melody) was only seen as a minor skill showing a person’s talent. Sometimes, the combined appellation ciqu also refers to traditional opera and genres of performances featuring speaking and singing.
Ci and qu are genres falling between essay and performing skills. They are not highly regarded, and even their authors do not prize them. They are no more than rhetoric with which people show off their literary talent to each other! (Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature)